Changes in ecosystem functions can be analyzed through changes in land use land cover (LULC) systems. This study was carried out to analyze the LULC changes and perception of local community towards land cover change in the lowlands of Bale, Southeast Ethiopia using remote sensing data, field observations and perception of local people. The results showed that cultivated land, settlement, bush land and bare land expanded by 13.81, 14.30, 12.62 and 22.3% respectively, between 1986 and 2016, whereas wood land, grassland and shrubby grassland declined by 33.82, 24.4 and 3.36% respectively. Local communities’ perceptions indicate that climatic, demographic and anthropogenic factors as well as implementation of inappropriate government policy and development interventions were major driving forces of LULC dynamics. Environmental and local livelihoods implications such as rangeland degradation, bush encroachment, soil degradation, livestock loss, biodiversity loss and poverty increase resulted from these changes. Cumulative effects contribute to rangeland degradation and poverty. Therefore, to halt the impact of LULC disturbance and its implication on the likelihood of the pastoralist, appropriate management measures and government policies have to be implemented.
Key words: Bale rangelands, remote sensing, land use/cover change, socio-economic factor.
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